Opening Spread: Texans +7.
Opening Game Total: 46.
Opening Team Totals: Texans (19.5), Browns (26.5).
The Line Report
- This line opened as Texans +7.
- This line has moved to Texans +6.5 and then back up to Texans +7.5.
- DraftKings Pick’Em has the Texans +6.5.
- Circa Sports Millions Pro Football Contest has the Texans +7.
- This total opened at 46 points.
- This total has moved to 47.5 points.
Texans: Out: WR Brandin Cooks, CB Derek Stingley Jr. Questionable: RB Rex Burkhead.
Browns: Out: TE David Njoku.
The Texans Offense vs. the Browns Defense
The Texans have a slightly below-average offensive line that has enough talent to be more of a middle-of-the-pack group. The Browns have a slightly below-average line despite having a premium edge rusher in Myles Garrett. This trench matchup is a relative draw from a macro sense, though Garrett will have an individual matchup advantage when he lines up over Texans right tackle Tytus Howard.
Betting Notes Per TruMedia
- The Texans are 4-6-1 against the spread this season.
- The Texans are 4-7 on overs this season.
- Kyle Allen is 9-12-1 against the spread in his career.
- Kyle Allen is 12-9-1 on overs in his career.
- Lovie Smith is 86-92-9 against the spread in his career as an NFL head coach.
- Lovie Smith is 86-98-3 on overs in his career as an NFL head coach.
- The Texans are scoring 15.8 points per game, which is 31st in the league.
- Houston is 26th in the league in yards passing per game and 29th in yards rushing.
- Kyle Allen took over at quarterback last week for the Texans. Consider him a mediocre backup quarterback.
- Per the Edge, Dameon Pierce is ninth in the league in yards rushing with 788. Pierce has five or more targets in four of his last eight games. He has at least three targets in seven of those eight contests.
- Rex Burkhead has two or fewer targets in each of his last four games.
- With Brandin Cooks ruled out, Nico Collins is the top option in Houston’s passing attack. Collins has 26 targets over his last three games, but he has failed to breach 50 yards receiving in any of those contests.
- Expect Phillip Dorsett and Chris Moore to see some role expansion in Cooks’ absence.
- Jordan Akins’ route participation is starting to take a noticeable lead over OJ Howard and Brevin Jordan.
- The Browns have allowed 26 points per game, which is 30th in the league.
- Per The Edge, the Browns have allowed the fifth-most yards rushing per game and the 13th-most yards receiving per game to running backs this season.
- Cleveland has given up the 18th-most yards receiving per game to wide receivers this year.
- The Browns have given up the third-most PPR points per game to perimeter receivers.
- The Browns have allowed the 21st-most yards receiving per game to tight ends this season.
The Browns Offense vs. the Texans Defense
The Browns offensive line has a massive advantage in this contest. The Browns have a top five-offensive line, and the Texans have a bottom-tier defensive front.
Betting Notes Per TruMedia
- The Browns are 5-6 against the spread this season.
- The Browns are 8-2-1 on overs this season.
- Kevin Stefanski is 18-26 against the spread in his career as an NFL head coach.
- Kevin Stefanski is 24-19-1 on overs in his career as an NFL head coach.
- The Browns are scoring 23.9 points per game, good for 11th in the league.
- Cleveland is 17th in the league in yards passing per game and fifth in yards rushing.
- Deshaun Watson returns to action after missing the last season and a half.
- Per the Edge, Nick Chubb is third in the league in yards rushing with 1039, and he’s second in rushing touchdowns with 12.
- Amari Cooper’s 26.3% target share is 17th in the league, and his 38.7% air yards share is tenth.
- Donovan Peoples-Jones has an 18.6% target share and a 25.2% air yards share.
- With David Njoku sidelined, Harrison Bryant takes over at tight end. Bryant has a 9.4% target share.
- The Texans have allowed 23.6 points per game, which is 23rd in the league.
- Per The Edge, the Texans have allowed the most yards rushing per game and the 23rd-most yards receiving per game to running backs this season.
- Houston has given up the 15th-most yards receiving per game to wide receivers this year.
- The Texans have allowed the 16th-most yards receiving per game to tight ends this season.
This Is What You’re Betting On in Browns vs. Texans
I’ve watched every snap of every NFL game since 2014, and the 2022 Houston Texans have been among the hardest teams to watch during that span. I’m very big on the question “what do you do well” when it comes to evaluation. The Texans have some pretty significant talent on their offensive line, yet they’ve played like a below-average group. Brandin Cooks and Derek Stingley Jr. are arguably two of the Texans’ five best players, and they will both miss this contest. The pivot to Kyle Allen at quarterback seems like a change for the sake of a change move, the sort that would come from a head coach that is worried about job security. Phillip Dorsett and Chris Moore will be starting wide receivers against the Browns. Ultimately, the Texans have the worst record in the league for a reason.
With all that said, beating Deshaun Watson in his return to the NFL in Houston is a game that members of the Texans organization circled on their calendar as soon as Watson’s suspension was finalized. This game is, in many ways, the Texans’ Super Bowl. If you’re betting on the Texans, you are building that bet around the idea that Houston comes out fired up in front of a hot crowd and plays above their heads in this contest. From a football sense, you’re then expecting two things from Houston.
The first is that this is a Dameon Pierce game, who has been one of the few true bright spots for the Texans this season. The second is that Watson is a dynamic talent who hasn’t played an NFL game in almost two years. Maybe he misses a couple of third-down throws that he usually wouldn’t. Perhaps he takes a couple of sacks that he’d typically evade. And maybe Watson makes a bad decision or two that results in an uncharacteristic turnover. That combination of events is the clearest path to the Texans keeping this one close. Your biggest concern as a Texans bettor is that you are betting on the worst team in the league, and the Browns have the raw materials to blow the doors off Houston.
A bet on the Browns is a bet on a borderline unprecedented mid-season transition. Deshaun Watson is a dynamic talent who hasn’t played an NFL game since early January 2021. He’s taking over for Jacoby Brissett, who is apparently very well regarded in the locker room, the week after Brissett led the Browns to an overtime victory over Tom Brady’s Buccaneers. When you factor in all of this with the allegations that led to Watson’s suspension in the first place, you have a situation where this has been an abnormal week for every member of the Browns organization. From a football perspective, Watson is the best option for the Browns at quarterback, but there is a lot going on with this transition this week.
From a football perspective, it would make sense for Cleveland to lean on their premium running game behind their elite offensive line against the league’s worst run defense in this contest. Not only is that a great matchup but taking as much as you can off Watson’s plate in his first game back makes sense. If I’m betting on Cleveland, that’s my first expectation. The second is that the Browns defense has underachieved most weeks this season, but they have enough talent on that side of the ball to shut down Kyle Allen’s talent-poor offense.
If the Browns ran all over the Texans while Cleveland put forth one of their better defensive efforts on the season, it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest. In fact, that’s the most likely outcome in this contest. You have two core concerns with any kind of Browns play this week. The first is that Houston plays their best game of the season in this matchup, while Watson has considerable rust in this contest, costing his team on multiple drives. The Browns coming off an overtime game is a negative for Cleveland as well.
Texans vs. Browns Pool Picks and Other Bets
Awards Market Ramifications: Dameon Pierce is an Offensive Rookie of the Year contender.
Winner/ Confidence Pool: I will primarily take Cleveland in winner pools, but I am going to take Houston in one of my entries as a very aggressive play in that format. I expect to be right in line with consensus on this contest in my confidence pool rankings.
Spread Pool: I have no interest in this game against the spread as I have absolutely no confidence in Houston, and I hate the spot the Browns are in.
Survivor Pool: I mentioned on Betting the NFL that I have a live entry in DraftKings’ $1.2 million survivor pool. This is a tough week in general where I already used the Cowboys and Ravens, so I have to strongly consider the Browns in this contest. From a game theory perspective, we can all reasonably expect the Browns to be the most popular selection this week. From a pure football standpoint, that’s perfectly reasonable, but when looking at every factor in this contest, this is the sort of game where a significant favorite like Cleveland can genuinely lose. My survivor pool selection will be a last-minute decision for me this week.
Ryan’s recent betting record:
ATS 2021: 49-31
ATS 2022: 38-22
Props 2022: 39-23
WATCH: How Deshaun Watson’s return impacts Amari Cooper in DFS